The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has reportedly awarded a $1.3 million grant to a team from the University of Central Florida (UCF) to fund the development of a graphene-enhanced next-generation infrared detector that could be used in fields like night vision, meteorology, and space exploration.

The UCF team is working on an entirely new type of detector that relies on graphene. The researchers plan to use graphene to make an infrared detector that is small, portable, doesn't need to be cooled, and produces high-resolution images. Unlike current technologies, which can detect only one band of light, the next-gen detector would be tunable and able to see a range of bands.

According to the researchers, the idea is to use graphene to strongly absorb light in the infrared domain and they showed that it is also possible to tune the response electronically. "If you can take an infrared image in different spectral bands, you can extract much more information." The team intends to collaborate with defense majors such as Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and St. Johns Optical Systems for integration and packaging.